Sharing Engineering with the Next Generation

Here at Kleingers, we love to talk about engineering.

“It sounds a little corny, but I do believe I was born to be a civil engineer,” our Vice President of Operations Steve Korte recently said.

But while many of our engineers learned their passion from their dads or someone influential in their lives, we know not every kid has that opportunity—which is why our second passion is sharing our zeal for the profession.

As Engineering Week comes to a close, we are celebrating sharing engineering with the next generation.

“So many children today have no idea what we do, what an engineer looks like, what it takes to be an engineer.  They have no idea that to build anything, you need an engineer.  The sidewalk they walk on, the school they sit in, the roads they bike on, that’s all because of an engineer,” Director of Engineering Tim Casto said. “I hope maybe, just maybe, there is that one kid out in the room that sees these props, looks at our plans, and thinks maybe I could do that.”

For the past three years, Jim Kleingers and Ameen Bakare have participated in a program through the Dayton Chamber Minority Business Partnership to introduce engineering design, architecture, and construction to students at Thurgood Marshall High School.

According to Ameen, the program helps kids understand how each of the individual professions works together to build new construction. As part of the program, kids are broken into teams and take on the role of surveyor, architect, landscape architect, or program manager. The kids work together on a deadline to figure out the information needed from a survey, building placement, how to arrange a site, and how to coordinate a project.

Although the program is brief, Ameen said he hopes it gives kids a chance to think about engineering as a future profession and put a face to the profession.

“A lot of the kids that are part of Thurgood Marshall… they don’t really see a lot of engineers and whether it is because I am a little younger or a man of color, it is good to see another face they can relate to,” Ameen said.

The transportation group at Kleingers is working to create a similar program with Safe Routes to Schools and Steve recently began speaking at his former junior high school, which is now a middle school, through the Cincinnati Engineering Enhanced Mathematics and Science Partnership at the University of Cincinnati.

“It is a little selfish, but it is hard finding civil engineers,” Steve said. “But really I’m trying to help younger kids learn about a potential career. I hope they will take classes and pursue engineering in general.”

Steve said as part of the program he helped kids layout an island, which included making decisions about where everything should go. They also talked in class about what is important in a roundabout.

Additionally, Jim and Tim have facilitated the Webelos Cub Scout activity to several Cub Scout Packs in Butler County, introducing Webelos to engineering. Among other activities, kids learn about the types of bridges and draw examples of them, work with ropes and pulleys, learn about surveying and measuring a property line, and visiting a construction site.

Tim said he particularly enjoys showing kids props—including pavement cores—and he is currently looking for ways to tie in Minecraft into educational programs.

“Most kids today have played with the program and they are in essence creating a model of a “site”, something we do as engineers.  In the game, they create houses, roads, trails, tunnels, waterways, beaches—stuff that engineers do every day. You can show a surface model in AutoCAD to a kid and they don’t get it, but if you relate those lines to the building blocks to Minecraft, that’s an “aha” moment for them,” Tim said.